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Chairwoman Stabenow Announces Support For Agri-Tourism, Northwest Michigan Farms

Grants Will Help Local Family-Farm Expand Business and Promote Agri-Tourism

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced federal support for Light of Day Organics, LLC, a Traverse City based family-owned organic farm and tea shop and Royal Farms in Ellsworth, which will expand their farm's business with a new fruit wines and hard cider products. The grants are awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture Value-Added Producer Grant initiative to help farmers and growers develop marketing strategies for agricultural commodities. Rural development funds are used for business plans, working capital for marketing value-added products, and for farm-based renewable energy projects.

Chairwoman Stabenow said, "Michigan agriculture is strong and expanding five times faster than the general economy. From food processing and manufacturing to farming and marketing, Michigan's agriculture industry is extremely wide ranging. Our agriculture sector brings in more than $71 billion a year and supports one out of every four jobs in the state. We are poised to continue building on that success and creating jobs here in Michigan, and tying our farms to tourism is a recipe for success."

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said, "In his State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out a blueprint for an economy that's built to last and that vision involves exploiting core opportunities for economic growth. USDA, through this program, is acting as a catalyst for business development and job creation in rural America."

Fruits and vegetables, also known in agriculture policy terms as "specialty crops," play a major role in Michigan agriculture. With the exception of California, Michigan leads the nation in crop diversity, growing and producing more than 200 unique commodities. Chairwoman Stabenow championed the development of the first ever specialty crops title in the 2008 Farm Bill, providing specialty crop growers for the first time assistance with pest and disease prevention, organic research, and trade assistance for growers hurt by new trade deals. The specialty crops title also strengthened the value-added producer initiative to help family-farms like Light of Day Organics and Royal Farms.

Located in Traverse City, Light of Day Organics was founded by Angela Macke in 2003. All products are grown organically and hand harvested. Light of Day Organics will receive $293,842. The grant will help Light of Day Organics, LLC, develop a marketing campaign to promote the farm as a premier health and wellness destination in Northwest Lower Michigan.

Royal Farms is located in Ellsworth and grows cherries, apples and pears. The farm is owned by Patrick & Sara McGuire, Roger & Erin Veliquette, Dave & Lisa McGuire, Erin Veliquette, and Damon Cullmore. Royal Farms will receive $45,094. The grant will help Royal Farms fund marketing activities promoting their new fruit wines and hard cider products.

Our Township greatly benefits from Network Northwest's experience, depth of knowledge and understanding. Because they work with so many diverse communities in our ten-county region they understand the local land-use issues and are already working on solutions by the time we realize we need some help.
- Susan Odom, Chair, Suttons Bay Township Planning Commission